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As Seen on TV

Superman and Lois Return, Loki concludes!

First and foremost, I’d like to thank The Flash for not making me wait two weeks to resolve a cliffhanger the way that Superman and Lois has. The Godspeed war has been consistent, fun, intense, and genuinely good stuff. I still wish they’d stop race swapping characters, but at least Impulse was fairly well done.

Over on Superman and Lois, my biggest observation is that Elizabeth Tulloch just keeps getting better. I look at her, and I just see Lois Lane. She may be the best Lois I’ve ever seen… and that’s saying something. It’s a hard role. You have to balance softness and femininity and the occasional damsel in distress role with being hard-nosed, persistent, brilliant, and brave enough to give off a vibe of this isn’t the first time I’ve had a gun in my face. Some Loises veer too soft, like Amy Adams, Noelle Neil, and even sometimes Teri Hatcher. Others just get way too hard, like Margot Kidder, or Kate Bosworth. Phyllis Coates may have been the only one I ever saw balance it perfectly for her era, but Elizabeth Tulloch’s version is unprecedented in how well-rounded it is.

It may help that she’s at a different time of life. She’s emotionally grounded with her two sons, and we don’t have the on-again off-again, will they won’t they, Superman or Clark debate. She’s chosen Clark, and in fact, was never so shallow as to be infatuated with Superman. I like that. And either way, knowing that they end up together and have established this long lasting relationship, it adds character and depth and just makes her more likable. But she’s still tenacious, she’s still a reporter, and a force to be reckoned with.

I put all this out there, because this week is really her episode. We do get some stellar stuff with John Henry Irons as Steel, but with Superman being mind controlled on the other side of the planet, this episode is really all about Lois taking charge, convincing them not to kill Superman, and trying to support Lana’s family as they suffer the backlash from the community that got possessed by alien beings. The series is just so good, and Steel looks great (although he needs a better helmet). But I got plenty of resolution, in fact, once again I almost feel like it’s the end of the season… Even though I know it’s not. Edge is imprisoned and still planning something nefarious.

As good as the Flash and Superman were, we then have… Loki. Seriously, what happened to Loki?

After such a great episode last week, we come back for the series finale, and… nothing happens. This episode is literally just people talking at each other. Mostly people talking at each other from one side of the desk to the other. It’s an oral history of the marvel multi-verse. That’s all. Nothing happened. Even during a brief sword fight, it really is only there to mask the fact that they’re still just talking back-and-forth. I am utterly disappointed, and genuinely bored. And I’m getting an enormous amount of heat from Loki STANS online, not just because I think it was a wasted opportunity, but because I didn’t think it was the greatest thing since sliced bread. Literally. I tried to find nice things to say about it, amazing music, beautiful imagery, and I mean that. It IS a gorgeous show, with some of the best music I’ve ever heard in television. There was also one cute bit that made Miss Minuets, the animated clock girl look very sinister – but after that intro, nothing happens! Not a single thing happens in this episode! It’s all just exposition… and me saying that seems to offend some people. The common response is “it’s setting up phase 4!“ I’ve heard that 1000 times. I understand. I agree actually, Kang is the big bad and it’s setting up the multi-verse. But there still was no story to this series! Iron Man set up the MCU. So did Thor, so did Captain America. And all of them manage to tell individual adventures while setting up the universe. They didn’t just info dump us and walk away. I literally had somebody tell me “I’m tired of adventures, I just want to see the set up for the new movies and the character development!“ Well that’s not really what the MCU is it? It’s comic book adventures. You want a balance between worldbuilding and story (interestingly, episode five hit that balance perfectly). Say 80% story and 20% world building. Loki has that ratio flipped on it’s head, completely backwards. Of all the MCU TV shows, this one has had the absolute LEAST story.

Moreover, there’s no character development here. Loki is the same person at the end of the series that he was in the beginning. He’s not even a character, he’s a sounding board for exposition who occasionally provides positive affirmation for Girl Loki. And Sylvie? She’s also the same character from the beginning to the end. She is the best Loki ever, and that’s all. There’s no heroes journey, there’s no great awakening, the series just… Is. Someone tried to tell me this is a masterclass in storytelling. (You’d have to tell a story for that to be true). Someone actually told me I need to read Shakespeare and I’ll appreciate it more (Shows how little they know about me. Also, try Wagner instead. Loki is far more rooted in the epic northern tales than in Elizabethan England).

I don’t hate Loki (although the MCU stans are really making me dislike it more every day) but I am disappointed. This could’ve been so much more. This could’ve been Doctor Who and Rick and Morty on crack. And it should’ve been. Instead, all we got was a history textbook. A D&D source book. Tom Hiddleston (Who is still brilliant in the role – pity he isn’t given anything to do) staring charmingly at the camera, but no storytelling, character development or adventure of any sort. I could cut this thing down into a 100 minuet film and still get all the necessary world building and character introductions in with better pacing and less filler. (About 80% of episode one, the Sylvie stuff from two, all of episode five and about ten minuets of three, four and six).

All I can say, is I hope What If and Hawkeye are better. 

 

 


Last Weeks TV

All I can say about The Flash is that I really wish it had started off the season this strong. The whole Godspeed War they’ve got going on has been really good stuff. Even though we’re going back to the kind of tired old trope of Barry losing his speed, this show feels dangerous again. I’m enjoying it. Throwing Diggle in for an episode also brings back some of that magic from that original Arrow crossover. With Arrow being over, any further crossover seemed as impossible as it did when the Flash first started. Nice to see Diggs again, and to keep the Arrow flame burning.

The surprise this week though, what is Loki. It’s the first episode of the series that’s really grabbed me and held onto my attention The whole way through. We’ve got multiple variants this week, along with consistent action, and a lot less needless exposition. Oh they still talk, it’s just that when they do it’s actually there to move the story along. Also, Alligator Loki is superior to all other locations. Much like the Flash, I wish the series had started out this good, running along at this pace. Considering how short this run is going to be, it really needed to kickstart itself right off the gate, and it kind of didn’t do that. If it had, I would’ve probably been an instant devotee, instead of reluctantly jumping on the bandwagon at this late date.

So. Who went out to see Black Widow this weekend?


This weeks picks

 

With no Superman and Lois last week it was up to the Flash to pick up the slack – and it did with a vengeance! The episode opens with Barry dreaming of his dead future daughter (Look, either you’re watching the show or you aren’t. I’m not explaining that one for you!), just before team Flash is drawn into a conflict with an army of Godspeeds. I know the show has been derailed by the plague, but it’s kind of been dilly dallying all season and this is the first time I’ve really felt stakes. It’s a great episode that grabs you and holds your attention all the way to the shocking cliffhanger. It’s a good reminder of why I’ve stuck with the show for so long, when all the other CW shows have fallen away.

Loki on the other hand….

I do not get this show. All of my friends tell me it’s the best thing since sliced bread, but I’m bored out of my mind. I’m still convinced that this was originally conceived as a film that they just filled out. 2/3rds of every episode is just talk- info dumps, and the frequent favorite, attractive people sitting in offices talking about their feelings (as opposed to the CW model where the attractive people talk about their feelings in HALLWAYS).  This sort of stuff works when there’s a good “B” storyline to shift to, but this…..it’s ALL the “B” storyline. We get a plot point or two dropped in each episode, but this thing just moves so slow, it’s infuriating, and survives entirely on it’s brevity and on Tom Hiddleston’s charm. I only hope Hiddleston makes it to the end (He’s booked for all six episodes, despite the cliffhanger last week). I’m not certian he will – it’s just too tempting in this current political climate to swap him out with Lady Loki as the main version of the character in the new MsheU. Sophia Di Martino is perfectly fine in the role of the variant doppelganger, but she’s no Tom Hiddleston.

AND WHAT OF MISS MINUETS???

 


Week of June 21st

Getting the reviews in JUST before it’s time to watch this weeks new episodes!

I have repeatedly said over the years that Superman works better on television than he does in film. The thing is, counterintuitive as it may be, Batman works better in movies because Batman is all about spectacle. Superman on the other hand, isn’t. For him, it’s all about character. It really is. It’s about reconciling the man with the super and the exploration both of him and he is supporting cast – one of the things that Superman and Lois has really gotten right. That balance, that exploration, all wrapped up in a slow burn. Last weeks episode paid off set ups I didn’t even noticed had occurred. It was all about exploring the past for half of the episode, and then crashing straight into the newest crisis. But it couldn’t of done it properly without the previous nine hours of set up and character exploration.

There’s also a wise effort to homage what’s come before without explicitly connecting to it. We begin the episode with the creation of the fortress of solitude… And it’s obviously trying to evoke the first Superman movie. Of course in a world where that first Salkind Superman film exists, anything else is going to feel a little hollow… And indeed, the same is true of Jor-el. I feel like this actor is miscast, certainly he doesn’t stand up well against luminarias like Marlon Brando and Russell Crowe. The less we see of him the better. Perry White, he is similar miscast, or perhaps we’re just not getting enough of him for me to judge fairly. That’s OK, because they dangle just enough of that Superman and Lois relationship budding that I feel good about it. I feel like I’ve seen everything I need to (and it’s the most realistic one we’ve ever seen – a natural evolution of thier working relationship, as opposed to a meek Clark trying to get the attention of a callous Lois who is preoccupied with an unattainable Superman). We’ve got the whole Lois and Clark vibe, every bit as much as we get the Smallville feeling every time we’re back in town. Overall, this show is about expanding the mythology, and building on everything that has come before.

Building. You know, that’s an interesting turn of phrase. And it perhaps best represents what I’m really liking about this series. It’s building. Instead of falling into the trendy habit of deconstructing, this one’s trying to build and expand, and that’s what makes it the best Superman we’ve seen in nearly 2 decades. And they’re not done with us yet. We’re only halfway through the season. At the end of the episode, when Lois calls John Henry Irons, to tell him things are beginning… I had chills.

Good thing that Superman was so good, because the Flash… UGG.
Seriously, is it just me or has this season of The Flash been a little bit light on… Well, THE FLASH??? Barry and Iris are off to some deserted island with no cell coverage to go make babies, which leaves Team Flash alone to deal with the villian of the week. Except, it’s not really Team Flash anymore. I mean we’ve got all these minor characters that have kind of gotten promoted in the wake of Wells and Cisco and eventually Caitlyn leaving. We’re going to do this Flash-lite episode just with them? This isn’t Legends of Tomorrow where it’s a pure ensemble, this is a show with a clear lead and all of these jumped up minor characters just doesn’t do it for me. It’s almost as if, let’s say in the fifth or sixth season of Star Trek the next generation… What if they decided to replace Geordie Laforge with Barkley, jettison Troi and just give Guinan a full-time role on the show… Maybe Nurse Ogawa gets promoted to doctor and we get rid of Crusher, throw Ensign Sito into the main security role on the bridge… heck while we’re at it – let’s make a depowered Q second in command!

My buddy Mike says it sounds like an interesting alternative universe, while my friend Bobbie says it makes her eye twitch. But either way, as the prime timeline, as the main series, how weird with this be? That’s kind of what I feel like happening on the flash right now, and I really don’t dig it. I’ll be honest with you. I didn’t even finish this episode.

Loki was similarly disappointing. Again we have a lot of X position, a lot of talk, but it feels like so much filler. I almost feel like they had more material than they could fit in a simple movie, but not enough to fill a proper series or miniseries, so it’s getting stretched out. In a film you’d get rid of a lot of the stuff and just hit the two or three plot points that were given Each episode expeditiously. On the other hand if it were a full TV series, or even say a full Netflix run Dash 10 to 12 episodes, we spaced this talky stuff out a lot more instead of dumping it into 2/3 of each episode. Of course that would also necessitate a B storyline, which is also really lax. Low-key just isn’t all that, and it’s being driven on the sheer likability of Tom Hiddleston. I’m not sure if that’s enough, but considering we are already halfway through it, I’m hoping things will really start to pick up. Otherwise the next few weeks are going to be a bit of a slog.

 

 


Week of June 14th

The main thing that struck me about Loki this week, was how slow it was. The episode was mostly filler (and two episodes in? That’s not a great sign). Don’t get me wrong. We had one or two key plot elements revealed, and that’s good stuff. But 80% of this episode… If this were a feature film, this would be the stuff that got cut. Of course the big reveal that the variant was a female version of lucky, well let’s just say I called this before the series started. At this point, in modern day politics, it was practically a requirement. That said, you’re doing it the right way. Girl Loki is very much her on character, and doing her own thing. Interesting

Over on Superman and Lois, @&$# just got real. Stakes like I’ve never seen before on a CW show, and an explosive climax that was… completely Superman. Not just brutalizing Zod like he did in Man of Steel , not just moping his way through it like in Superman Returns, but an intelligent, clever solution to a world ending problem… Absolutely Superman.

It is not an exaggeration for me to say this is the best Superman I’ve seen in 20 years.

We’re definitely getting more Superman than Clark now. Almost like the first few episodes were frontloaded with Clark story, and now it’s a lot more superman story. It’s an interesting disbursement, and it works. Because as things grow more dire as we move towards a climax, we need Superman more than Clark. Of course now that we’ve hit that climax, one almost wonders where do we go from here? We’re about halfway through the season, but there’s still a lot more to go… and yet this totally felt like it was a season finale. It really gets me eager for what we have in store…

Flash is leaning a little more heavily into intrigue the season. We’re trying to discover things like why the new police chief hates Metas, but we’re also dealing with a lot of B story stuff – like Barry and Iris trying to get pregnant in strange places (like the lab warehouse?), and Black Cisco trying to catalog and dance in his lab. It’s a real effort The show is making to help us accept Chunk as Cisco Ramon‘s replacement… And, it just doesn’t work for me. Cisco was adorkable, where as Chester is just gawky… and not really his own character. He’s just another carbon copy of the archtype, very similar in fanboy inclinatons to Cisco….It’s just feels like a mulligan to me.


Still, it’s a rollicking good adventure with a familiar face, if not exactly a returning villain. But the adventure really feels secondary here. This episode is not really about team flash beating bad guys, as much as it is about really trying to integrate Black Cisco onto the team and more importantly, picking up on some of the threats they been dropping about Cecile. That turned out nicely creepy, and it’s a pleasant change to have attractive people talking about their feelings and padded rooms instead of attractive people talking about their feelings in hallways.  Overall, this is a bridge episode. It’s not filler, but it doesn’t quite stand on its own either. It’s necessary to push the long-term storytelling to the next plot point. Still, if you’re keeping up on the series, it’s fun.

There’s a lot of familiar tech and Easter eggs dropped throughout it, stuff that reminds you why we love the flash and jumped on board with this show in the first place.

And what is this I hear about The Food That Built America having a PODCAST??? I’m going to have to check that out today while I’m on the road. The story of chewing gum was less compelling last night than last week’s potato chip episode, but I’m really still riveted. I hope the podcast isn’t just the narration from the show or something dumb like that. We’ll find out and report back next week!

 


Week of 6/6/21

It’s a weird week when the Flash is on the top of the discussion list, but we had a really good episode this week. Cisco is leaving… I mean, he kind of left the show a couple times already, but this time it’s official. This time they’re really committing to it, and giving us what is very much a farewell story. Sure there’s actually a fun villain in it that does some cool stuff, but that’s not what this one’s really about this very much is Cisco story… And it underscores where we’re at with the Flash. It’s time to end it. The series still has enough heart and momentum great episodes like this really resonate. We had a fairly shocking farewell to Wells, and we know that Caitlyn‘s leaving this year too. All of this at once, it feels like if we were to keep pushing another year, that it would just be a mistake. One by one bid farewell to these beloved characters, and maybe just time to put the chairs on the tables and call it a day. After Crisis, the Arrowverse really was over.

Of course, that doesn’t seem to apply to Superman and Lois (or Stargirl for that matter). Then again, it’s hard to tell if it’s proper Arrowverse or not. It’s not cast or paced like an Arrowverse show, and indeed, we’re even reusing a villain from Supergirl season one – you may remember, back when Alex was straight, she even went on a date with him to get information. Then again, I’m not entirely certain if this is really Morgan Edge after all. This weeks episode ended with a bang and a twist and a cliffhanger that has me very eager to see what happens next.


I guess the big news this week is Loki. I’m gonna admit that I enjoyed it. This may be the strongest MCU TV show… At least the strongest opening for one of them that I’ve seen. That’s not surprising, Tom Hiddleston is effortlessly charming, and Owen Wilson is actually very good when he chooses not to do the Owen Wilson/Matthew McConaughey thing. I am intrigued to see where this goes, although I might be a little bit disappointed if the big bad doesn’t turn out to be Kang the Conquerer!

 


Week of 5/31/21

Man, I watched a LOT of TV this week, and I’m not sure the reason for the increase. Just a lot of catching up I guess.

I almost feel like Superman was a filler episode this week. Then again, when Superman does the filler episode, they still do it right. We’re getting some linking material to bridge between the first part of the season and the next – getting to really know John Henry Iirons, and seeing some of lois’s neuroses in the bargain. We get a good perspective on what it’s like to be the unpowered part of this family – not just her, but for Jonathan as well. It’s good stuff and actually gives us a lot of Superman rather than just Clark. I’m actually really digging this.

No new episode of the flash this week, but I did manage to catch up with the new installment of the Food that made America. This week they are focusing on the invention of the chicken nugget. That I get, it’s actually kind of cool. I’m at just the right age to remember this being new and cool and an interesting innovation. On the other hand, the same episode demonstrated that the egg McMuffin was first introduced in 1976. That means I’m older than the Egg McMuffin… And I don’t think I’m OK with that.


My youngest daughter came to me and requested LEGO Masters. That’s right, the series has started up again, and this was actually a big family favorite for us last year. Will Arnett (better known as Lego Batman) is still chewing the scenery and we’ve got an interesting cast this year. There’s one couple that reminds the kids very much of their grandparents, and I think that’s going to be the family favorite this year. If you haven’t watched the series, it’s worth your while to look it up. I’m not a Lego guy, but I kind of wish I was. It’s the sort of interesting creation play that appeals to me, but requires a certain level of dedication and focus that I lack. It’s amazing to see what they create, and while I doubt that will talk much more about that in future columns, you can rest assured that we’re gonna be glued to the television for the next 15 weeks or so for this series.

But the real thing I wanted to talk about, was the Friends reunion. I know, I don’t necessarily look like a Friends guy… I’m really not. For me, must see TV was Seinfeld, and Friends with just kind of the thing that came on after it. Nevertheless, like everybody of a certain age, I  have long memories of the show and the reunion was genuinely interesting. I always had certain problems with the show, I was felt like Rachel treated Ross like garbage, and was pleased to discover in the reunion, that everybody agreed… They were on a break!

 I always understood the chemistry between the cast and how perfectly they were each seated for their roles, but I came away with a greater appreciation for your physical comedy and the relationships  developed… Brilliant to find out that there was a genuine attraction between Schwimer in Aniston… (who very much looks like she’s had a face lift around the eyes…) and how that translated on screen. It was fascinating to hear the casting decisions, but more than anything I came away with a greater appreciation for Matt Leblanc. Look, Joey was always one of my favorite characters, he’s what I wish I was instead of being a Chandler. But the thing is, watching this reunion, watching these interviews, of all the actors there he comes across as the most… earnest. He’s genuine. Everyone else is still themselves, but they’re their own Hollywood selves. Matt Leblanc on the other hand, seems to give no care. I appreciate the fact that the dude has let himself go gray, and let his gut come out, the man has no pretension and it’s so refreshing. He’s really on here, and just seems so happy to be back with everyone. Of all the cast here, he’s the one I’d like to sit down and just hang out with. I have so much more respect for him now… And quite frankly, I’m one of those guys who still kevtch about the fact that he got passed over in favor of Keanu Reeves for the Matrix.

One of the most insightful things though that I really heard tonight, was listening to Lisa Kudrow talk about how if there was ever be any sort of sequel, any sort of a continuation,… The thing is they left everybody in such a good place. We knew they were safe, we knew that their lives were going forward in a good place. To create any sort of continuation would necessitate unraveling all that… And who wants to do that? I saw the producers nodding in agreement. It was really their words spoken through her mouth, and I couldn’t be happier. There’s talk of a Night Court reboot these days, and I’m horrified. Night Court is my absolute favorite sitcom of all time, and I don’t wanna see it rebooted. It ended with everybody in good places (no mean trick since they only got word that they were cancelled a few weeks earlier and had to scramble to cobble together a half hearted series finale), and I don’t see where retreading that all the ground ever produces something worthwhile. I want to live with my good memories, and the people who created Friends are wise enough to do that. This is a good way to handle it. It’s nice to see everybody back together again, and in some ways it makes me nostalgic for a time that never really existed. I’m certain I haven’t seen every episode of friends. In fact, I probably haven’t seen most of them. I dropped off when I went to college, along with all my other television… And it was right around this time that the show really pissed me off with the way that Rachel is treating Ross anyhow. But it’s still an undeniable cultural phenomenon and this sort of behind the scenes, reunion, memoir storytelling is always exactly my kind of thing. Absolutely worth watching if you got access to HBO max. It’s probably even more worthwhile watching if one of your friends has access to HBO max and will let you come over and hang out for a couple hours.

 

 


Week of March 24th

I was looking back through old posts and noticed my initial reviews of Superman and Lois. There’s a lot of hesitancy there. A lot of trepidation. There’s also a definite hope that this will develop into something genuinely good. I’m pleased to say that it has. It really has.

We got a bombshell reveal this week that had jaws on the floor. Every friend I know who watched this absolutely lost their mind. The show really understands how to introduce characters from the mythology in unexpected ways. Moreover, the character development with Jon and Jordan continues to be strong. We see Jordan struggling with his powers, with the sensory overload that comes with being a kryptonian. This comes in to play later as the episodes MacGuffin, and allows him and his brother to team up to save their dad. It’s all great stuff, and I’m constantly surprised. It’s almost as if somebody at the CW sent out a memo asking if “we could make a show not suck for a change?” It’s turned into the best iteration of Superman on screen since the Justice League cartoon.

Speaking of extraordinary television that I was hesitant about… Did anybody catch High Fidelity on Hulu?

I should hate this show. I should absolutely be frustrated by it’s very existence. It’s all the diversity checkboxes; we’ve got race swapped characters, we’ve got a gender swap, we’ve got a gay person, all wrapped up in a remake that was completely unnecessary. This thing should be awful.

I am beside myself at how good it is.

Admittedly, a lot of this has to do with Zoe Kravitz. She takes this role and in many ways makes it her own. There’s still the inherent slacker vibe with a dash of nihilism that we got from John Cusack, but there’s something else going on here too. Cusack manages to make dumpy ironic clothes look trashy. Kravitz makes dumpy trashy clothes look cutting edge fashionable. It’s effortless. The show is messy, and the characters are complex. We can see some of the performances from the film there… But they really end up just being baselines. They end up almost as if they were first draft.

There’s a wisdom here in splitting up the Marie Disalle character into two different male love interests for Zoe‘s character of Rob. As if they are stripping different elements of her to create greater tension and a more complex intrigue. We hit all the beats, and it’s really fun to hear Zoe’s Robin speak some of the same lines as John Cusack‘s Rob… because they’re delivered so differently and yet it all feels perfect. I almost wish they diverge to more from the source material, because I feel like she’s an entirely get enough chance to shine.
High Fidelity is in fact, one of my top five all-time favorite films. This shockingly does it great justice in an alternate reality sort of way. I’d actually love to see a conversation at the bar between John Cusack’s Rob and Zoe Kravitz’s Rob. I think they’d hate each other.

There was  talk of a second season but it went nowhere. This infuriates some of my friends, but watching the series, I feel like they knew it was coming. They left it not quite open ended… They tied up all the loose strings but left a few pass open if they wanted to pick it back up. Nevertheless, they also managed a sense of conclusion and personality that is surprisingly satisfying. No mean trick that.

So after all of that, it’s going to sound weird that I don’t have a lot to say about the flash. It’s still solid, although I almost feel like this week, we ended their whole war of light storyline… And even the beast story, a bunch of villains breaking out from iron Heights, along with killer Frost, feels like it was wrapped up. Wrapped up clumsily at that… As if they were rushing to close the season. We’re only halfway through though, so why is this I feel so much like a season finale?

 


Week of 5/16/21

Man, that hiatus did NO one any favors. I completely missed that Flash was back for two weeks before my friend Bobbi mentioned to me that she had two episodes on her DVR, and it wasn’t until my friend Vanessa asked a question about the proximity of Smallville to Metropolis that I remembered that Superman and Lois was back on last week. I’m not the only one. the ratings dropped by about 30% and that’s a shame, because Superman and Lois is one of the best things on television right now.

Look, you can tell it’s superior writing when you can actually make me care about the events of a football game.
The episode smartly starts off with a nice action shot piece, and superman being more powerful than a locomotive. In fact, I felt like we got just a bit more in-costume Superman this episode then we have previously, and I’m really enjoying that. Nevertheless, this really is a family show, and the dynamics of the kids are every bit as important.

We’re still watching Jordan trying to figure out the limits of his powers and how to control them.It’s interesting to see his reaction to them, and his new drive to try and fit in on the football team, but it’s equally interesting to watch Jonathan as he tries to balance high school, and being a supportive big brother, despite the fact that it feels like he’s almost beginning to fall in Jordan’s shadow. In the middle of it all, is Clark, doing his best to shepherd his son through unknown waters (There’s an uncontrollable heat vision moment in  this episode – Clark runs to Jordan’s rescue to help as he can’t hold it in. One arm around his shoulders and a hand in front of his eyes – “Let it out”. The moment just kills me it’s so good). We always knew that Superman would be a good father, and watching him deal with young super boy during the rebirth era of the Superman comics, it felt natural. But that was easy. That version of Jonathan was not quite old enough to join the Teen Titans, and still at an age where children listen to their parents. With these 15-year-olds, things are a touch more complicated… especially since they didn’t grow up knowing that Clark was Superman. This is truly, “Superman as you’ve never seen him before”.

Normally when we hear that description, it means the character is going to go dark, or evil, or greedy… Or emotionally shattered… and the truth is, it never works. It never works because we have in fact, seen it before, and the moment you go down those paths, Clark ceases to be Superman. This on the other hand, allows him to be emotionally vulnerable in the most aspirational way possible. It allows him some self doubt, then shows him rising above it, reminding us that bravery isn’t the absence of fear… It’s acting despite that fear.

Aspirational…..and isn’t that what Superman is really all about in the first place?


This is tough stuff to write. I can’t praise it enough, and I want as many eyes on the show as possible, because it deserves it. This is not the cookie-cutter CW formula, and it’s the best superman we’ve had on any screen since the Justice League cartoon ended. When the episode ended, I literally sat back in my chair and turned off my television, because anything else I watched that night would be a step down. (I’d get to The Flash a day or so later)

The Flash continues to be solid. I know I say that every week, but it bears repeating. The hiatus may have worked in it’s favor, because I had to watch two episodes back to back to catch up. One great one, and then one filler one. Still, the story arc that they are establishing now, with the Flash shutting down these different element infused people that the speed force wants to absorb (at least, I think that’s what’s going on. the technobabble in the Flash is not for the faint of heart), it’s actually an interesting take. I almost feel like I’m watching The Flash do its own version of the war of light storyline from the Green Lantern comics. It’s been engaging and we’re seeing some interesting relationships develop. It manages to feel fresh. The speed-force-as-Barry’s-mother was starting to get a little old, and all of a sudden, they changed things up with a twist and pushed the arc further… It works. It really does.

I keep reading articles about how The Flash has become terrible and the arrowverse needs to end. Anyone who is telling you that is an actually watching the show. It’s still good superhero adventures with familiar faces weekend and week out.
The problem with good, is that it isn’t great. And I’ll admit this is not the great show that overcame my initial objections and won my heart in the first couple of seasons. It’s a different television landscape today though as well. When Arrow and The Flash first showed up, We weren’t really seeing superheroes on TV. Especially superheroes in costumes that actually resemble their comic book counterparts. (Even Marvel was hesitant with Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D).… We didn’t see too many comic book accurate looking characters in there until well into that series run) We were grateful just for their existence, and overlooked some of the flaws… Like the-attractive-people-standing-in-hallways-talking-about-their-feelings moments. Since then, we’ve started to see other television take superheroes and go more serious; things like the Netflix Daredevil and Punisher and Defenders. Then Doom Patrol and Swamp Thing and even The Boys showed us that we could go serious and even gritty with these characters, yet still maintain their look and identity. It’s a different world, and sometimes the CW shows that have been around for a while begin to suffer from comparison and adherence to a model that compromises CW aesthetics with superhero action. That doesn’t make it bad though, and I’m still judging the flash strictly on its own merits. It’s still on my must see list every week, and you should do yourself a favor and check it out if you’ve dropped it. Superman and The Flash make Tuesday nights a much better place.

 

 

 


This weeks alternatives

I haven’t done a TV blog in weeks because first off, Superman and Lois is on hiatus. The Flash has been solid. Good stuff, nothing extraordinary,… Just a good solid average TV week in and week out. Remember when television was like that? Of course it’s taking a few weeks off too. Falcon and the Winter Soldier actually started out in that same mold, solid entertainment, but then got a little more woke than I prefer towards the end. So all in all, I haven’t had much to talk about. I’ve been seeking elsewhere for my television entertainment.

The Food That Built America has come on my radar with a vengeance. It’s a documentary series on the history channel and in it’s second season, that has absolutely shocking marvelous stories about very familiar food. Nathan‘s hotdogs, white castle, Hershey, but the one that really pushed me over the edge and made me a devotee was the McDonald’s versus Burger King episode. See, if you watched Michael Keaton in The Founder, you know how McDonald’s started, but this episode really tells the second part of the story – how it expanded and the birth of the Big Mac as a reaction to Burger king’s Whopper. You get some amazing insights as to both McDonald’s and Burger King, moreover, it’s fascinating to see the development of such familiar comfort food as white castle, and hotdogs in general. Hershey’s Chocolate and all sorts of other things that just seem a part of normal every every day life. Seriously, I’m riveted. 

The other television I’m obsessing over is the Big Bad B Movie Show. That one may take some explaining.

The Big Bad B Movie Show is a horror host show, much like Elvira or Svengoolie on MeTV. There was a time when every city had their own unique horror host. It’s an art that’s slowly fading away, but in Cleveland, we don’t let go of things quite so easily. We had Big Chuck and Lil John right up through the 90s, and there’s something in the water here that grows horror hosts at a faster rate than any other state in the union. So the newest crop are Leopold and Lenora… And they’re brilliant. The most significant thing about Leopold and Lenora, is that they’ve found a fairly original formula to do the whole horror host thing with, and that’s no mean trick. Leopold is a hipster doofus, and Lenora is a glam airhead counterpart. They’re both brilliant and hilarious. I’ve watched sketches that involve terrible children shows… “So kids, come on let’s start with grabbing the kitchen knife!” And Gwar as a personal injury firm, as well as terrible horror scopes, parodies on the purge, and the worst imitation of Vincent Price I’ve ever seen. It’s all glorious. If I have any complaint, it’s that they also incorporate other local (Somewhat opportunistic) horror hosts the mummy in the monkey, eating up one hosting segment that would be better served by Leopold and Lenora. Nevertheless, the big bad B-movie show is easily one of the best horror host shows in decades… And I should know. I am a bit of a horror host groupie, and yet I can’t sing the praises the show enough. I’m enjoying every second of it.

Well, perhaps not every second of it, they are still stuck with public domain films… Which means they’re showing the same set of movies that every other Internet horror host Joe’s. It’s really the one weakness of the series, but on the other hand, I don’t mind watching Robot Monster and the Last Man on Earth quite so much with these companions to join me. You can watch Leopold and Lenora on the Channel 19 news app, available on fire stick… Or do a web search for WUAB TV Cleveland, and you’re sure to find The Big Bad B Movie Show. It’s absolutely worth your time, and is now the highlight of my week.

 


Week of 3-22-21

falconFalcon and the Winter Soldier continues to be a solid series. The weekly format works much better this time around than it did with Wandavision. It’s a much more straightforward action series and delivers what it’s promised.

The new Captain America suit is growing on me, though I still miss the white stripes on the comic version. John Walker himself is being set up to be fairly unlikable – a little shmoozy and weak. He has all the physical training and all the necessary courage, but none of the leadership or charisma.  Still, I’m familiar with this storyline from the comics so I wasn’t gasping in horror the way a lot of other fans were during the reveal last week. What I found really funny though, was that I was okay with him taking the name. And the shield. But there’s this bit where he jumps into action and they play the Captain America theme from the films….THAT bothered me. That orchestral sting just didn’t belong to him! It feels wrong!

I’m still waiting for the buddy comedy with Falcon and Bucky. We haven’t really gotten there yet. Admittedly, in a normal three act buddy cop film, the characters spend the first act as rivals, the second as uneasy allies who fall out at the end, then the last act is them coming together as a team and friends. This is a six hour mini-series….not a 90 minuet film. But if they are pacing it the same way, we’re just at the end of the first act….even though it took three times as long to get there. I’m willing to ride this out and see where it goes.

154058696_4083867441657648_8614749267349268281_nElsewhere, and earlier in the week, there was a moment from the beginning of episode five of Superman and Lois that really struck me. Lois is talking about Smallville’s annual harvest festival.

“Your dad learned a lot about giving and helping people in need from this… He’s not just super man because he has powers.”They get it. I don’t believe it, but they actually get it!

Incognito superman work at the beginning here as well… And this is actually really smart. Clark and Superman always seem to have the same friends, it’s always one of the things that strains credulity. I’m glad they are dealing with that here.

Despite having a monster of the week, this episode actually really feels more like a transitional one. Not filler per se, because we need a lot of the stuff we see here – filling out of Jordan‘s relationship both with his brother and his not-girlfriend (By the way, that’s a tough role to play. This kid is doing an admirable job balancing the nervous character without making him an unlikable spaz or a whiny child) we get a lot of flashbacks of Clark’s youth in Smallville and him coming into his powers, as well as a very welcome return and Captain Luther. It’s been a while and I’d almost forgotten about you.

But you know, here’s the thing. Even when it’s one of these individual episodes that doesn’t really push the bigger season  arc much, there’s still good stuff. The relationship stuff between the brothers, between father and son it’s just all really good.

indexI’m pleased to say that much as I’d hoped, the Flash is kind of getting itself back on track. This weeks episode was very much a normal superhero romp, with the return of abracadabra. Sure there’s still some people in hallways talking about feelings going on… Especially as Iris is trying to write the story of her time in the mirror universe and other people are getting together in a support group for folks who had been mirrored, but the focus was really on the battle with Abra Kadabra.

Our bad guy has an interesting motivation this time around as well, because he’s coping with the reality shift that occurred after crisis, the flash is been the best place to explore these kind of issues, and it works really well in this episode. I got more than enough time with Barry in the suit, and plenty of running and punching to balance out the talking and reasoning. There’s a reason why the flash has managed to keep going all this time, it is a genuinely good superhero show this is a really nice return the form.

So my friend Bobbie and I were talking a little bit about David Tennant and Michael Sheen‘s show Staged. It’s a sort of zoom sitcom, where the two are talking to each other against the backdrop of certain events… The establishment of a stage show, or the show itself being sold to America. It’s eight episodes and a half hour each and the second season indexjust dropped. It’s enormous fun. It’s the sort of buddy comedy but I think people are really craving right now. Sheen and tenant are having great fun together, familiar faces that you just kind of want to like in the first place. It’s nice to see Georgia Tennant as well, it’s been a while since I’ve seen her on screen although she does occasionally pop up in David’s podcast.

While the first season was fairly low-key with only one or two guests, this second season everybody seems to be jumping on board. The show is already pretty meta, being a zoom meeting and the characters playing versions themselves. This time around were taking that even further, because it while it’s still a zoom meeting, and they’re still playing versions of them selves, the entire story is about how staged is being remade and sold to the American audiences… And who might be playing David and Michael. It’s hilarious. They use this conceit as an excuse to bring an all manner of guest stars from Simon Pegg and Nick Frost, to Ewan McGregor to Jim Parsons… It’s a fairly endless list and each episode surprises you with who shows up

The other great revelation in the show is Whoopi Goldberg, playing David and Michael‘s agent. Can I just say something? It’s been a long time since Whoopi has been funny. Not that she’s lost the ability, she just hasn’t done anything that I’ve really enjoyed. A lot of times comedic actors get to a stage in their career when they wanna dip their toe in two more serious fare. Once Whoopi did that, she just kind of vanished from the comedy scene, and while I’m glad to have things like the Color Purple and Star Trek the next generation, I think the last decade and a half of her career has really been defined by her time on the View, with her as a political personality rather than a comedian… And I think we’re poorer for that. Whoopee is leaning into the cranky old broad character, and doing a brilliant job as the tough as nails agent. It is a joy to watch her yell at David and Michael. It is so much fun to watch her be funny inde22xagain, and it makes me miss the days of her doing films like Burglar, and Jumping Jack flash.

Bobbie and I were chatting a bit and she kept wondering why she liked this show so much…. I think I’ve got it. It’s a nice lighthearted comedy, with no current year politics, no agenda, it’s just fun. They’re just trying to be entertaining. They’re not trying to push a message, they’re not trying to sneak in a narrative, it’s just a fun buddy comedy… And I think we really are looking for something Like this. After a day of pushing through the Snyder cut, this was a breeze to blow through. It actually ended too soon.

Staged is currently on Hulu, and if you haven’t caught the show yet I can’t recommend it enough.

 


Week of 3/14/21

 

“I need to drink about this a lot more”
“Don’t you mean….”
“I said what I said.”

I really feel like I need a copy of Disenchantment on DVD or Blu, because it’s just too loony to survive and I don’t trust Netflix to keep it on forever. It’s just a delight to watch and I feel weird that I prefer this to Futurama, but whatever. When Richard Ayoade showed up in episode four I just about plotzed. I totally want to spend my next vacation in dead monksburg.

“Someone get the Princess a six pack.”

Superman and Lois actually continues to impress and get even better. There is an astonishing emphasis on fatherhood in this show which I absolutely adore. There is a lot more football though than Superman… And that criticism doesn’t look like it’s going away anytime soon! We had an interesting villain this week… At least we had him for five or 10 minutes. He brought back Dr. Killgrave, a mad scientist type from the comics, a C-lister at best but a nice little Easter egg for Superman fans. Whenever I hear about him, I can’t help but think about the Jerry Ordway cover with him in the robotic bulldozer.

I’m also intrigued by the role they have cast General Sam Lane in. He acts kind of as a liaison between Superman and the government or the army. I was never a big fan of this in Supergirl, and my first inclination is to kind of be annoyed by here as well, but it’s not entirely unheard of. If you’ve ever read the excellent Superman : Secret Identity miniseries  (it’s an elseworlds thing, but one of the best ones) They actually propose a similar situation, where there is a contact and Superman sometimes cooperates with the government… mostly to keep them off his back – trying to kidnap him and throw himin a tank of fiendish green liquid, and dissect him or whatever. It makes sense, and I am willing to concede this small bit of CW formula and darkness because there’s a lot of other things going on in the show. It’s a thrill to see Clark be a father to his sons, something that they’re really contrasting with the way General Lane raised Lois.

Speaking of Lois by the way, with every episode she solidifies further in my mind as the definitive Lois Lane. It’s brilliant the way they show her drive… She’s going to be a journalist in Smallville just as much as she was in Metropolis. It kind of shows that this is who she is, this is what compels her. It’s actually a nice mirror of Clark in that Superman, even without the powers would still have been all about trying to help people… He just would’ve had to go about it a different way. Lois, even without the Metropolitan setting in the high power connections is still going to fight for the voiceless in the best way she knows how.

There’s a great line in this episode as well, where Lana is having a drink with Lois, and she describes the real change that she saw in Clark after he moved to Metropolis. More confidence, he stood up straighter, he really grew up. Then she looks at Lois and says and she gets exactly where that comes from. You made him a better man.
I love this. It is a way of showing Lois‘s strength and brilliance, that builds up both her and Clark at the same time. We spent so much time in popular media where, to build the woman up as smart and strong, they have to tear their male counterpart down… It’s a really common trope in family sitcoms that always drove me nuts. The fact that they are accomplishing the same goal,  building Lois up as a quality female character, but doing so in a way that also builds up her male costars, it’s just so refreshing and rare that I feel a real need to call it out.

Indeed the rest of the media seems to be taking note. I saw a new article over at the AV club talking about how Superman on TV is the hero we need right now. That comes hot on the heels of last week’s article in the Los Angeles Times. I’m always pleased when the press finally gets it, but at the same time I’m equal parts frustrated because they seem so shocked that this works. The thing is, as we move further away from the 1950s, apple pie, baseball, truth and justice and the American way, as we move further into a more cynical post modern era, we crave these kind of aspirational and pure characters even more… not less. We start with Captain America, heck we see it in the Mandalorian even… The driving appeal of that series isn’t the cool Boba Fett armor, it’s not even the cute Baby Yoda. The moments that consistently move people to tears are the ones where Mando is being a father to Baby Yoda. There’s a hunger for that, and I give Superman and Lois enormous props for taking the steam and running with it.

It’s bringing in the viewers too, Superman and Lois set streaming records as well as being a ratings juggernaut, not only on broadcast, but also setting records in streaming and I have no idea what the CW is going to do when they replace it with the final season of Supergirl next month….swaping Superman and Lois with it’s 3.2 million viewers for Supergirl with it’s mere half a million or so viewers. *sigh*

I’m not entirely certain what I’m watching with the Flash. So, the Flash lost his speed again? We’re getting Wells back again? Wait, no. Wells is going away again? And Iris was in a coma, but was woken up by this weeks deus ex machina just in time to help get Barry’s speed back again, again? It feels like a muddled mess, like a rewrite on some of the old Half produced episodes from last year, but they couldn’t afford to get rid of footage so we get this weird duplication of themes from episode to episode.

I will say, when we do get a superhero antics, it’s spectacular. Actually, I think Superman and Lois could learn a trick or two in the flash when it comes to setting up the superhero battles… And I’m loving Vibe’s new costume. I like that the power is technical and not necessarily inside him… it’s not canon to the comics, but the Cisco Ramon on the show is a very different character than the one I’m used to seeing in the comics. I actually kind of like him better on TV!

You may remember some hubub last year when Hartley Sawyer, who plays Ralph Dinby, the Elongated Man, got himself canceled over old tweets. I think they are still tying up loose ends from the previous season, so they needed him around to at least give him a somewhat organic exit. They use some bizarre methods to bring Elongated Man back … With a melted face and then later on, A regeneration helmet that I bet will change his appearance so they can recast the character… But for the moment, they’re shipping him and Sue off the show to go on their own adventures offscreen while they figure out if they can bring the character back in some way shape or form.

Falcon and Winter Soldier also premiered, and I think I was actually looking forward to this one more than WandaVision. This series promised to be more of a straight up superhero show, and I was in particular looking forward to the introduction of John Walker, USAgent.

My first impressions were that they finally got Falcon right. The thing is, I always felt like the studio thought they needed to use him, but had no idea how. There’s already too many people in funny costumes in the Avengers movies, and Sam always got lost in the crowd. This time around they finally given him a proper outfit… Even back in the 80s, the red and white scheme on his suit really appealed to me, and I’m glad they’re finally leaning into it. They also get more into the dynamics, the tech, and the combat. It’s all something that we really needed from this character, and I’m glad to see them finally doing him justice.

Sebastian Stan is a welcome face as well. In fact, that’s really what this feels like. a family reunion with old friends. They start his scenes off with a flashback to the Winter Soldier days, and it’s comforting to see that costume and that actor. Yeah, comforting I think is indeed the word. It’s comfort food. Familiar and safe, with just a touch of new.

We’re getting to see more of the Falcons family, a destitute fishing clan in an area that’s been devastated by the events of Endgame. we se how that affects the mundane, things like credit scores and financial impacts. It’s a good hook, and one that you really couldn’t have done within the confines of a film. I am looking forward to see where this goes. I’m not expecting greatness. I’m not expecting cutting edge or revolutionary television, but good superhero fair with an underlining foundation of drama? Yeah. This definitely hits all those notes.

Elsewhere, I keep hearing about something new dropping this week… Something about Justice Cuts Zack or something? I can’t quite remember the name.

Never mind. probably it wasn’t that important anyhow… I’m sure it’ll come to me…

 


Week of March 7th

It’s interesting, the flash this year almost feels like The Flash’s big theme is “let’s see how many different kind of rolls Grant Gustin can play”. “Let’s stretch his range”. It’s as if he’s been watching Harrison Wells have too much fun with these different personas and it’s Barry’s turn now!

We do start off with some attractive people in the hall talking about their feelings… Most specifically talking about how sad they are that Wells is gone. I suppose this is appropriate, although our last scene shows that he might not be quite as gone as it seems! I’m eager to see where the shenanigans go later.

Barry however has gotten his speed back, and a new side effect! Speed thinking. This actually came in to play in the comics with impulse/kid flash, but has never really been explored it here on the TV show. They start off playing it for laughs, but it soon becomes a little sinister. Barry’s lost his emotions, and it’s an interesting look. Kind of the Flash if he were Batman.

It’s still feels though like we’re very much in the middle of a story arc, and the episode suffers a little bit from middle child syndrome. It’s less an adventure of it’s own, and more part of a serialized story. The equilibrium feels off on the show, and I’m hoping that they get their groove back soon. Still, I’m enjoying seeing the gang all back.

Superman and Lois on the other hand, doesn’t seem to have nearly as much attractive people talking in hallways about their feelings, it’s there, but more of it is teen angst than it is CW soap opera. They did have the best line of the week… “Do you drive a station wagon that’s currently on fire?”.

If I have any real complaints about the show though, it’s not there’s just not enough Superman. We get two good Set pieces with him, but for the most part it’s Clark and the kids. Not that this is it all bad, I actually happen to be every bit as fan of Clark Kent as I am of Superman… But the show is called Superman and Lois and I kind of miss seeing the red cape more. There’s a lot going on with the kids though, and they’re trying to build up a supporting cast. This is in enormously important in a Superman story… One of the things that really makes the Superman stories in Metropolis charming is Jimmy Olsen, Perry White, even the lesser supporting characters like cat Grant, Bibbo, and Dr. Hamilton. If the show really wants to succeed it’s going to have to build a strong supporting cast. Good news is, they seem to be on their way there. I’m not even really missing the old supporting characters… Perry White had obviously retired, and we know that Jimmy Olsen had moved to where ever it is Supergirl lives. The natural progression of the story has helped immensely… Indeed, I recall Brian Singer complaining that he didn’t know how to handle Superman. He used to complain that because Clark was invulnerable, the only way you could hurt him was emotionally. I don’t know if I subscribe to that. But if that’s the direction you want to go, the writers on Superman and Lois have figured it out. They’re playing on Clark’s own insecurities as a father and the general tough job of raising teenagers. It makes him emotionally vulnerable, and it makes him surprisingly human. You don’t need to make him a deadbeat dad the way singer did in Superman Returns, you don’t need him to be a creepy stalker spying on his ex-girlfriend and her new fiancé from the sky. Singer’s attempts at emotionally compromising Superman damaged the character, it made him into a loser, a jerk. Whereas the emotional beats and vulnerability that they are showing Superman and Lois, actually elevate Clark Kent… And I think make him more of a hero. I’m really enjoying what I’m seeing here, and I really hope that this Continues to stay the course with this level of quality. I’ll gladly put up with the sulking teenagers to have some quality Superman!

By the way, I mentioned Disenchantment a couple weeks ago. It continues to delight. I almost get the impression that Netflix just didn’t care anymore and were just fulfilling contractual obligations….and that they aren’t paying attention, because this show is getting weird. It’s more out there than previously, but it works. The episode we watched this week involved a psychotic unicorn, a trouser thief, Zog with PSTD and acting slightly undead and the marriage of the prince to a geriatric fairy named “Saggy”.

I can not recommend this enough.

 


This weeks picks

Superman and Lois continues to be good. The social justice rears its head here and there, mostly in Lois‘s complaints about Morgan Edge and a living wage… But really, it’s minor. It’s the sort of little jab that we would be perfectly content to ignore in a less polarized age, and I’m not gonna let that distract from my enjoyment of seeing Superman return to television. I am a little perplexed about Morgan Edge though… We’ve had him already in the arrow verse, specifically a we’ve had him already in the arrowverse, specifically in the excellent first season of Supergirl. I’m wondering how we’re getting a second iteration of the character when Superman and Lois is firmly planted in both Supergirl and The Flash‘s world… Perhaps we can just blame it on the crisis.

They are throwing in some fun stuff like multiple suits and time at the Fortress of Solitude. All that stuff is a big winner with me and it makes me very happy that I bought the black Superman figure when I went out to the toy Ohio show a couple weeks ago!

I also have to give them props for the courage to make there a big bad guy not just a minority, but also that they’re making him an original character instead of just race-swapping the most obvious candidate. They’re actually giving him some depth and an interesting backstory and there’s enough here to keep me intrigued, wondering where this whole thing is going to go. I’m pleased to see it’s renewed for a second season, and I have no complaints. It’s still fine, but here’s hoping that it becomes great.
Speaking of the arrow verse, the flash returned this week as well. I’ve got to say, it’s an embarrassment of riches to have Superman, the flash and WandaVision all new in one week.

I’ve mentioned recently though, that The Flash is kind of running out of steam. It’s still watchable, and it’s still enjoyable, but they’re running out of interesting stuff to do, and the cracks are beginning to show. It was unfortunately cut short last season because of the pandemic, so I was quite eager to see it return… A full 11 months later.

 
The problem is, nothing is changed. at the beginning, Barry is still losing speed, Iris is still trapped in the mirror universe,… It really was a sort of transitionary episode, trying to wrap up last season and set us up for this year. As a result, we actually get more than the usual qoutaof attractive people standing in hallways talking about their feelings, and a very minimal amount of superhero action. About five minutes at the beginning, and about three minutes at the end. Come on guys, all this together! The cast is almost entirely different now, but I still have hopes to see the flash turn things around and go back to being must watch television for Tuesday night!
 
And then there’s Wandavision. For the most part I’ve liked it. The return of kat Dennings was an absolute triumph, and we really needed some fleshing out on Wanda and Vision. These are fundamental Avenger characters.
 
But this show is troubling. The way she has taken over this little town, enslaved the populace, basically turned them into meat puppets. It’s a violation, and it’s horrendous. Going forward, I can’t see how anyone in the MCU can ever again see her as anything but a villian. My buddies keep assuring me “Dr. Strange will fix it!”. I’m not so sure. This is so hideous in my eyes, and White MurderVision was totally justified in trying to squish her head. 

Glad he didn’t though. The new costume is really good.
 
One last note – while we’ve been obsessed with the MCU and the Muppets and Superman and Lois, you may not have noticed, but Netflix quietly added season three of Disenchantment. It’s every bit as brilliant as ever, and I HIGHLY recommend you pop up and give it a watch!

DREAD PIRATE LEAVEO!
 
 

 

 


Superman and Lois

I’ve had some time to kind of process what I saw in Superman and Lois. I’ve also heard some other opinions on it, some I agree with, and some that I don’t. What was my reaction?

It’s Fine. That’s all. Just fine.

Look, I like Superman and I have been screaming at the CW for years that in addition to Supergirl, they really ought to make a Superman TV show. Superman for me, has always worked better on television. The thing is, a movie is about spectacle, and a TV show can be about character. The movies are about super, where is the TV show is about man. And superman is really a lot about character, far more so than spectacle. The powers are secondary. They’re just a mundane fact of his existence. what’s really interesting about him is the person, the character. It’s one of the reasons why Smallville worked as well as it did, despite never showing him in the costume.

Being on the CW always worries me. At least these days, they’ve traded a lot of their storytelling for social justice. Supergirl started out as an excellent series. I loved it from the pilot. The first season was amazing, but then they jumped networks… And in the process lost Calista Flockhart‘s character of cat Grant. It’s almost as if they immediately found themselves in an identity crisis and and with no clear vision as to where to go, they plug the holes with social justice. LGBTQ, anti-gun, orange man bad, etc, and little else. It ultimately sunk the show… at least for me it did. (Me and a lot of other people apparently as the ratings went into freefall). Recent offerings like Batwoman, Legends of Tomorrow and even Black Lightning haven’t fared much better; focusing more on identity politics and social justice then actual character development. That’s not to say that there’s no place for those things, but there is a tendency in modern entertainment to make it about only about those things, and lean on them instead of any sort of storytelling. There’s an audience out there for that, certainly. But it’s not a big one. Less than half a million people according to the ratings.

So when Superman and Lois was announced, I had my worries. The Flash is still fairly untainted by agenda, but it is running out of steam. Stargirl on the other hand, surprisingly great… An actual call back to those happy, excited feelings I had when Supergirl first burst on the scene. It’s enough to give me hope for Superman and Lois.
I’m glad to see that the CW didn’t drop the ball here… At least not right out of the gate. They pull off a trick I thought they had forgotten, they manage to make Lois a strong, well done female character, and do so without tearing down her male counterpart. She doesn’t have to be strong at the expense of the male characters, instead, she is their equal… And isn’t that really what we’re supposed to be going for? Elizabeth Tulloch is shockingly good in the role too. The more I see of her, the more I buy her as Lois Lane. I really enjoy her more and more.

Superman for his part, is well characterized. I’ve always enjoyed Tyler Hoechlin in the role, he’s every bit as good as Henry Cavill… And while I’m tempted to say it’s better than man of steel, it’s really not an apples to apples comparison. They’re different types of stories with different purposes. Superman retains his integrity, and really works as a father. That’s a dynamic I really was enjoying in the comics… in many ways, this feels like the ideal successor to Smallville – with Clark now finding himself in the same role that Jonathan Kent played, lo those many years ago. It works for this kind of a character and I have to give them props for trying to do something new. They’re exploring a different time of life for Superman and what we normally see, and that’s appropriate. They warned us ahead of time that they were going to do it, which I do appreciate. I’m not big on spoilers, but knowing that this wasn’t going to be Lois and Clark in the city went a long way towards adjusting my expectations. If I hadn’t known this is going to be the Superman family moving to Kansas, I might’ve been a little upset.

I like the new suit well enough. The fact that we see Superman’s had diffrent suits over the years actually makes me like it more and retroactively imprives my opinion of the one we’ve seen in his cameo appearances. I am amused at bits – at times they’re just lifting scenes STRAIGHT from Superman Returns and Man of Steel. I also really liked the (brief) recap (origin, story till now, ect), and thought the golden age costume and the video game (you’ll see what I mean when you watch it) were nice touches. Not sure I’m on board with the mopey teenager. Then again, Smallville had its share of angst and I DID like the interaction with the jr Kent brothers. Not sure why Lana Lang is being played by a low budget Jennifer Tilly. Seriously, though, if those nitpick are my only beef? We’re on some pretty solid ground here.

Here’s the thing, the CW has a great opportunity here. Superman shows are a license to print money. I’m not even kidding. Superman has a proven track record on television, it always works. At least, it always works as long as you stay true to the character. People love Superman for the same reason they love Captain America… It’s a pure character, with virtue and aspirational values. The moment you start deconstructing him it all falls apart. For all the dismissal of Superman as unrelatable, a big boy scout, too corny – there’s a real LONGING for that in entertainment – again, I point to the Captain America films, not to mention the beautiful blended family with a surprisingly strong father figure in Stargirl. Indeed, the family aspect works extraordinarily well in this context, and this has the potential to be something great.
 
I hope the CW is up to it. I’m optimistic as to where it goes from here.

 


Mad About You 2019

tvimages2.jpgFor the last few months, I’ve seen ads for the Mad About You revival popping up in my TV Guide feed. This seem like such a weird choice, because it’s not really the sort of show that needs a revival – it was about newlyweds at a very specific time in their lives. To suddenly shift to their golden years almost seems to undermine the premise.

Even stranger is Sony’s choice to release this only for Spectrum cable customers. I don’t know how it works where you live, but every place I’ve ever dwelled, the cable market isn’t really competitive. It’s generally one provider in the area, with the possibility of a satellite company sneaking in and siphoning off a single digit percentage of the residences. The point being, it’s not the competitive field vying for eyeballs that say, the new streaming market is.

Nevertheless, I was curious. I’m the target demographic for this. I was just about old enough when it came out, and I was a fan when it was still on first run, particularly towards the end when it was not only in first run, but also constantly being syndicated. The idea of a show about a newlywed young couple, just a touch older than I was, really appealed to me. These were married folks that didn’t look like my parents, in a genuinely funny presentation. One of the other things I found incredibly appealing was that it explored with the husband and the wife’s foibles equally. There were plenty of episodes index3where Paul comes off looking ridiculous and bad, and there would be just as many episodes where Jamie looked every bit as foolish. It cuts against the grain of the modern sitcom template where the wife is wise and always correct and the husband is invariably a bumbling fool (I hated Home Improvement for this reason and the Cosby Show had lost it’s luster  for me long before any of the accusations started). I like that it explored both characters and presented what was actually a very edifying portrait of marriage.

So how is this new version fair?

It opens with a cute bit where Paul and Jamie discuss running into an old friend they haven’t seen in 20 years and how they changed. It’s clever but I don’t recall this show getting meta like this and it throws me off a bit. God bless Richard Kine for coming back though. He’s great. And Jon Pankow is still as much fun as ever. He’s actually nicer looking as an older man, though I don’t understand what on earth he’s doing as a restaurant owner. What happened to the sporting goods store? I also can’t help but notice Anne Ramsey is listed in the title credits of every episode though she actually only appears in two.

images1.jpgThere’s some stuff that’s off though. There are the constant “wink wink” callbacks and ‘memberberries that they keep dropping. Remember Ira’s old flame Mary Ann? Or Fran! You remember Jamie’s best friend Fran! (She and Mark are divorced now and he’s remarried to a sassy new African American stereotype). After a while they start to get annoying. It’s little stuff too. It’s not just that the dog from the original show is dead, it’s the fact that they KEEP MENTIONING IT. I probably wouldn’t have really noticed Murray’s absence if they didn’t keep bringing him up. I’m not a dog person, but even to me this is a drag. Paul’s dad is dead too (Louis Zorich actually did pass last year), and his mom is in a nursing home – looking surprisingly frail. I’m not sure I want to see her like this (perhaps that just hits too close to home for me, with my father spending his last days in a similar facility).  Then of course, the whole thing with Richard Kine’s character is strange as well. I realize they couldn’t get Leila Kenzle back as Fran, but that doesn’t make the thing with Mark make. Let’s say your best friend divorces. Do you still hang out with her ex husband and his new wife instead of her (Hang out, she’s even apprenticing under the new wife)?

If we want to nitpick, there’s things like in ep 5, Richard Kine says Paul is well into his seventh decade. In ep 6 Paul’s mom says she’s 85. This math is not adding up.(If she had been a teen mom, it would have been addressed earlier). Also, I’ve been in my house for fourteen years. We’ve not come even close to remolding this place to the degree they have redone that apartment. And why does everything have to be r rated? I really don’t need the S bombs, but I suppose it could be worse

index1.jpgAbby Quinn as the daughter is brilliant. Mable is actually the most interesting part of this series. I’d watch a spin off of just her adventures at college with periodic (and frequent) drop ins by Paul and Jamie. She channels Paul Riser in a lot of her performance and her relationship with Jamie would be perfect if…

Well that’s the problem. Jamie.

Paul Riser has gotten gray and soft and fluffy in his old age. It’s actually something I noticed in the second season of Stranger Things – he’s lost what little edge he had that made him such a great villian in Aliens. But that’s fine. He’s a teddy bear with his very recognizable brand of humor still at the forefront. Helen Hunt’s character on the there hand has gotten harder, with sharp edges. Her character had always been neurotic, even quirky. But it was balanced with a charm, an adorable funny style that just made you love her. I’m a fan of Helen Hunt. I like her outside of this series and followed her into her film career. Heck, I even remember her afterschool specials days. But this incarnation, it’s like they took all of the ugliest aspects of Jamie’s neurosis and amplified them while jettisoning everything that was charming about the character. Her husband is cucked sexually and every word out of her mouth to him seems critical. She gets mad that he smokes an occasional cigar and yet I remember her sneaking cigarettes during the 90’s run. We seem to have tumbled backwards, into that sitcom formula I was so images.jpgcritical of earlier, where the husband is just a bumbling fool and the wife is always right, and her rightness is validated by all around her (Even in episode 4 I believe, where she’s been proven demonstrably wrong, yet the episode closes with Ira speaking the words “She’s always right!”). I got to be honest, I like Jamie less with each episode. She’s turned into a very ugly person.

If we dive deeper into a study of these performances, I almost wonder how much of it is intentional. You could argue that Jamie has settled into the same antagonistic role that her mother filled, except not as passive aggressive as Carol Burnett or Penny Fuller index.jpgplayed it. To that end, Paul may well just be settling down into the content and submissive role that Louis Zorich portrayed as his father Burt. We become our parents. It would be accurate. But is it good?

When you end a sitcom, you kind of want to show that the cast is moving on from one time of life to another. You want closure, but you also want to know that they are going to be okay. That things are good. Mad About You actually did a fairly good job of this with their series finale. They still showed struggle and growth, but ultimately we got the end we wanted. As I said at the beginning, this kind of undermines that.

So is it worth seeing? At 25 minuets per episode and only six episodes out (The back half of the 12 episode season will drop in December) you can easily plow through this in less time that it takes to watch a Marvel movie. If you have Spectrum, It may be worth your time over an evening or two, particularly for the delightful Abby Quinn. It’s not worth the trouble of pirating or purchasing though (Maybe if it hits that $5 bin at Wal-Mart). If they are smart, they will eventually add this to the 90’s series syndication package so everyone will have access to it in a few years. I’m curious enough to be willing to binge the last six episodes next month, but can’t see how this gets a second season.


Good Omens

tvindex3It’s been awhile since I’ve really had something on TV to kind of gush about.I miss the days when Doctor Who was appointment television – it hasn’t been that way for a while now, and the Walking Dead is still around but kind of a shadow of it’s former self.

I’ve been planning on watching Good Omens, but haven’t got the opportunity until this past weekend – the freedom of fathers day gave me enough time to binge this and it  far exceeded my expectations.

I remember picking up the book from the library when it first came out, and not really getting too far into it… It seems like a good idea, and I always did dig Neil Gaiman, (ont as much Terry Pratchet. I know, heresy, but discworld just wasn’t my thing) and a number of my friends liked it. I just never got terribly far into it. After watching this, I may have to give it another try.

The thing that strikes me so much about this end of the world comedy about a Demon and Angel attempting to prevent Armageddon, it that it looks so cinematic. It feels like summer blockbuster – even more so than the actual summer blockbusters of recent indexyears. There are moments where I see David Tennant’s demon Crowley and he is so very perfectly framed and lit that I feel like I’m watching one of the set pieces out of some movie commercial I’ve been watching for the past two months – you know what I mean? It’s that excitement that we used to get from seeing Jurassic Park posters all over the place, along with promotional items at the local fast food joint and larger-than-life stand-ups in every theatre.It feels epic and big and I genuinely can’t think of another actor who could’ve pulled this off in such a massive scope. Honestly, every bit of casting here is well done, I didn’t even realize that was Michael McKeon as a witchfinder general until the credits rolled! Brian Cox as death is another welcome familiar, well not face… But his voice and presence I certainly felt. I don’t think I’ve ever seen Michael Sheen in anything before, but his angel Aziraphale is a pitch perfect foil for Tennant’s Crowley and the two have an undeniable chemestry. The effects are top-notch, and the entire series just leaves me index2.jpgwanting to see more of these two characters. Even watching young Sam Taylor Buck  play the 11 year old antichrist, all I could think was that this kid was going places – probably not too far from becoming a leading man in a few years.

If I have any criticisms, it would be my opinion that wordy British humor sometimes dosen’t translate onto screen. Those long asides that are perfectly hilarious in print can stop the pacing of a show flat. It happens occasionally here, and Pratchetts influence reminds me a lot of Douglas Adams same meandering  style of tangent. It’s a minor quibble in an otherwise excellent series.

Seriously, I can’t recommend Good Omens enough. It’s a good enough incentive to get Amazon Prime (That and the fact that it has the entire run of Dark Shadows!), even if only for a month (long enough to watch the six episodes of Good Omens). As soon as there is a DVD release of this thing, I’m going to be there on day one!


Discovery – the first quarter

tvindex2Is it just me or is Discovery in full damage control mode now?

I suppose I shouldn’t be criticizing this. I’m actually watching Discovery fix a lot of my problems with the show, but these are a lot of things that shouldn’t have been issues in the first place.

I’m genuinely surprised at how much I like Captain Pike in this series. I never particularly cared for him in TOS and I haven’t exactly been dying for a Pike series, nevertheless Anson Mount seems to pull the role off well. It’s big shoes he has to fill. I really dug Jason Isaacs. Mount’s compassionate yet firm performance is an interesting contrast to Isaacs’ duplicitous, edgy Captian Lorca. I still miss him, but Pike is a good replacement. His command to replace all the holographic communicators on the ship with analog on-screen ones (because they are supposedly more secure) is however, a sloppy fix to my (and other’s) complaints about the use of technology that shouldn’t exist at this point in index3the timeline yet. We’re seeing a lot of this kind of quick patch-and-fix method.

Pike’s not the only classic Trek character being brought in though. In addition to Spock (Who, four episodes in, we still haven’t seen – and that’s probably a good thing. It builds suspense), episode four also brings in Majel Barett’s first officer character from “The Cage”, this time pleasantly played by an unrecognizable Rebecca Romijn (actually, I like her version better than Majel’s. She’s more likable – and cool that she vanishes into the role. I can’t believe I didn’t know that was her!) for a quick pop-in cameo at the beginning of the episode. It’s another example of nostalgia overkill. I swear, the Star Trek Writer’s have been trying to make something of this character for at least the last thirty years. There’s something of an obsession here. I’m not convinced that fandom is really dying for a “Number One” story, but Discovery is still trying to pull in that pre-trek crew and any familiar face they imagescan (Please don’t bring back Harry Mudd btw. Rainn Wilson was wholly unlikable – which completely misses the point of Harry)

Speaking of familiar faces, the Klingons look a hundred percent better in this series. They are transitioning them over to what is more recognizable by growing their hair out and dressing them in more leather, less bone and resin. I see a lot of forehead ridges being sculpted differently to. They’ve explained it as a story point, that the empire shifted once L’Rell took it over at the end of the last season. The Klingons are growing their hair out now. It’s a nice try. A little late – those drastic changes to the Klingons were a major sore point to a lot of Trekkers. Had they gone with this mix, a sort of evolved Klingon makeup, I think people would have accepted it a lot more readily – even been excited about it. You’ll never convince me that this evolution however, was images2the intent from the beginning though.

It’s actually the NEW faces that seems to really work for me. I’ve never been a real fan of Tig Notaro’s comedy, but man does she fit right in here as a recently rescued engineer from the shipwreck on a wayward astroid. I’d actually really like to see her replace Anthony Rapp as chief engineer. It’s not that Rapp has done anything wrong, it’s just that Notaro is that much better. I love watching her and Rapp verbally spar and would really dig seeing that kind of chemistry with a Captian. She absolutely feels like the McCoy of the group, and that’s something we’ve needed in this series. It brings into sharp focus just how sterile the interpersonal relationships have been on index.jpgDiscovery.

One of the things that impressed me about watching Tig and Rapp fight was the subject matter, a discussion of old reliable methods – Dilithium Crystals and Duck Tape, versus new tech – that is, the Spore Drive. This is the kind of social commentary that Star Trek has usually done well. It’s metaphor for Liberal vs. Conservative thinking and it hits both sides of an issue. It’s not the in-your-face SJW rhetoric that has taken over Doctor Who. I know Discovery has occasionally come under criticize for that same “Woke” attitude, but I don’t see it here nearly as much as I do in say, the abysmal last few seasons of Supergirl. I think we’re more sensitive to it in this day and age where it oversaturates too much of indexgenre TV. Discovery actually could be commended for dialing it back to traditional levels.

So the real question for me is whether this season is better than last. It feels very similar, but with a lot of Tig’s duck tape trying to patch over the leaks in the series. It’s not like the real jump in quality we saw between the first season of TNG and the third. Then again, I don’t think Discovery is really as weak a show as TNG was during those first two seasons. However it also doesn’t have the goodwill That TNG derived frm being a return to weekly television after eighteen years (the animated series notwithstanding) off the air. TNG also didn’t have the responsibility of being the flagship for both a new network AND platform hanging around it’s neck like an albatross. Discovery’s mandate to launch CBS All Access has created an uncomfortable relationship between series and studio. The subscriber base for All Access has plateaued, and that puts Discovery in jeopardy. Had it been on a traditional network – even a index4premium cable one, that might not have been the case. Shows like Doctor Who and Game of Thrones thrive on their networks, largely because the infrastructure has been build and the general public have already accepted the platform. Discovery lacks that, and to put the burden on it’s shoulders is somewhat unfair. Star Trek is durable, but history shows us this is a losing bet. Star Trek II (the aborted TV series) failed to launch a paramount network. Voyager was moderately more sucessful, but wasn’t enough to create a sustainable network and UPN is now no more than a memory. I fear we’re watching that same scenario lay out now. CBS’s attitude is somewhere around “Wait and see” though insiders are saying CBS is abandoning Discovery and focusing on their Picard series (Not sure what that means for the black ops spin off that was suosed to feature Michelle Yeoh’s Georgiou). I think that’s a shame, because there’s plenty good here. I’d like to see more…but I’m not convinced we’re going to.


Star Trek : Discovery

tvindex4.jpgSo Discovery came back last week, though it took me until the weekend to actually see it. It hasn’t been that long a wait for me actually. With the exception of the first two episodes, I only finally got around to watching the bulk of the first season this past December.

Let’s get straight to the heart of this, because I see a lot of Trek fans constantly trashing this series out of hand. Discovery is not bad. It’s better than Voyager and Enterprise. It’s closer to Star Trek in spirit than the J.J. Abrams movies (hereon out referred to as the Kelvan timeline) ever came. It’s not as good as TNG, but might tie with DS9 as far as quality and originality goes.

There. We’ve established a pecking order. We’ve also established that I like it, more or less. Indeed, when CBS premiered the show last year with their two episode sneek peak, I actually told friends I was surprised that I liked it as much as I did. The effects are up to par. I love the uniforms (I ALWAYS wanted blue uniforms, back as far as 8th grade. Asymmetrical even. I couldn’t have done a better job myself.) and I’m totally in love with that spunky plump redhead on the show (Seriously, Tilly pushes all of my buttons). Sonequa Martin-Green does a fine job here, and actually is a far more interesting character than she ever was on The Walking Dead. Also, I’m pretty much on board with anything Jason Issacs is in. I also love the redesign of the Enterprise (brief glimpses as we get). It’s actually EXACTLY what I wanted to see done to the ship when TOS went through all it’s remastering and redone FX all those years ago. I also have to give them credit for finding flattering angles to shoot the U.S.S. Discovery from – ones that help it look dynamic and cool. No small feat to pretty up what is possibly the ugliest ship in Trek history. They definitely deserve some praise for that.

But there are problems.

  1. I’m so sick to death of prequels. Not only is making this a prequel unnecessary, it’s CONFUSING. Exactly what is this a prequel to? Is it taking place in the Kelvan timeline? Because that might make sense. Tech and fashion and stuff in general developed differently there. If however, this is supposed to be in the prime timeline index.jpgwith the original series, it’s creating some continuity holes big enough to drive a Klingon warship through. Not one of the little ones either like a bird of prey, no I’m talking one of those ginormous Neghvar cruisers that dwarfed the Vor’Cha class.The Holographic communicators really bother me since we actually SAW the introduction of this tech in the fifth season DS9 episode “For the Uniform”. Yeah, it’s funny that that’s the one t hat irks me more than the jump drive thing….I suppose I can believe that the Jump tech was classified and never used again. Maybe. If I start thinking about it, the whole thing unravels pretty quick.
    So for fifty years we’ve just forgotten that the Jump tech exists. We’ve also forgotten about the brief use of the Discovery uniforms and the rank designations being on the arrowhead insgina (which is different from any we’ve ever seen before). This stuff is the peril of doing a prequel. What’s frustrating is that this didn’t HAVE to be a prequel. It’s not about forging the frontier or any significant events that were history in TOS. This could have just as easily been set fifty years after the end of Voyager and been the next, NEXT generation. It means you don’t get to use Sarek or Mudd, but those could easily be swapped out with other characters.
  2. We’re going back to the well. The last THIRD of Discovery’s first season was all index3.jpgabout the mirror universe. This has quickly become the go-to stock story for these series. It’s the single thing most people remember and rave about Enterprise. It’s a trope so often used in TV and print that I’m actually shocked that Discovery got to it before the Kelvan timeline films did (To be fair though, they were busy with regurgitating Star Trek 2 – another trip to a different well). This is another one of those things that plays havoc with the timeline by the way. In the TOS story “Mirror Mirror”, both the Enterprise crew and the mirror universe blokes all seem blissfully unaware of the whole thing, despite incursion by both Archer’s Enterprise and the Discovery crew. This does not compute.
    images.jpgMirror Universe aside, the fact that season 2 is bringing in both Captain Pike and Spock as major players signals a certain degree of uncertainty on CBS’s part. It’s a mandate to bring in familiar faces. The problem is even though this Spock actually looks better than Zachery Quento, I’m not actually jonseing for more Spock and I certainly don’t dig the importance they are putting on this long-lost sister thing that Michael Burnham represents.Where did Sybok go anyhow?
  3. TV-MA. Seriously, I understand that Star Trek has always been Adult Sci-Fi, but it’s never been ADULT (Bam-chika-wow-wow) fare. I wasn’t a particular fan of Data’s expletive as the Enterprise-D crashed in Generations but it felt organic and wasn’t excessive.  Honestly though, I don’t really feel the need F-Bombs or Klingon breasts in my Star Trek. It doesn’t make it any more mature subject matter nor does it push the narrative. It’s a classic case of “We’re doing it because we CAN” rather than doing it because they should. I had the EXACT same criticisms of the film Logan, which did precisely the same thing. The only thing this accomplishes is to guarantee that my kids won’t be watching it. That’s kind of a shame isn’t it?
  4. You can’t talk about Discovery without talking about the paywall. Quite frankly, no matter how good the series is, the paywall was always going to turn a lot of people off. We’re still in the middle of figuring out the business model for streaming services. CBS is operating on an old model, releasing one episode a week, while applying the netflix pay model (and ironically, for foreign markets CBS decided to forego the streaming platform and just go on Netflix). That hybrid is turning a lot of souls off,  as evidenced by Discovery consistently being in the to 20 most pirated shows on TV, index2.jpgwith the pilot actually hitting #12 (and that was one of the ones CBS made free to everyone to watch!), rivaling shows like Game of Thrones. Plenty who don’t pirate, just waited for DVD. I didn’t have cable growing up and I still never missed an episode of any Trek series – as evidenced by snowy VHS recordings with the Channel 43 logo in the bottom right corner. One more service on top of cable and netflix and maybe Prime or Hulu….it’s to much. The guy to finally make sense of this ala carte system is going to be a millionaire. But untill then, the various individual streaming platforms is only going to generate a bunch of ill will, especially for millenials, who already despise paying for cable. CBS hoped that Trek would help their streaming brand. While it probably has, I’d say it’s had a greater effect to the opposite – it’s damaged the Star Trek brand too, and hung a particular taint around the neck of Discovery. There’s a good article about this over here – https://www.fudzilla.com/news/44594-star-trek-discovery-shows-that-big-content-still-has-not-got-the-message.

I don’t think Discovery is a bad show. If you haven’t given it a chance, I think you should (and I wish there was an alternative to dropping the cash on the streaming service or the DVD set. Come over to my house. We’ll crack a couple Dews and watch a couple, the same as I used to do with my buddy Johnny Em.)But I think it has some serious baggage. Voyager and Enterprise limped along despite fatigue and softening ratings. But they didn’t have the baggage Discovery does. Now with the announcement that fourth Kelvan timeline film has been shelved, combined with the sort of playing-it-safe move that bringing in Spock is do make me wonder for the future of the series.

 


Worlds finest

tvsupergril-flash-crossover-artIt’s fair to say that I’ve been looking forward to this episode almost as much as the Batman versus Superman movie. Back when the first photos of grant and Melissa showed up, we thought it was cool but never dreams that a cross network cross series crossover could ever happen – it’s really a sign of how different things are these days and how strong the idea of the shared universe really is.

Of course as fans we understood the appeal of crossovers and the shared universe for a very long time, but it’s interesting days that we live in when rival television networks are willing to play nice and share characters because they finally caught on and caught up to us on realizing the benefits of series interaction. The episode is everything that I could’ve hoped for

It’s interesting, I did like Batman versus Superman and it’s clearly the s"Worlds Finest" -- Kara gains a new ally when the lightning-fast superhero The Flash suddenly appears from an alternate universe and helps Kara battle Siobhan, aka Silver Banshee (Italia Ricci, left), and Livewire (Brit Morgan, right) in exchange for her help in finding a way to return him home, on SUPERGIRL, Monday, March 28 (8:00-9:00 PM, ET/PT) on the CBS Television Network. Photo: Robert Voets/Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. © 2016 WBEI. All rights reserved.uperior production,but I think I may have had more fun with Supergirl and  the flash last night. Can I talk a minute though about how much I love the villains? Silver Banshee really works better as a Supergirl villain then she did as a Superman baddie and that’s interesting to realize. It’s still the TV show’s own unique take on the character, but I have no complaints. In fact the way they made her look… she may as well have stepped right off the comic book pages –indeed, I may actually like this outfit better than the comic versions. Siobhán was spooky and intimidating and perfect. It may perhaps have been a little bit over the top for mainstream audience, I’m not sure. My girls loved it – Lydia cringed from the skull face and everybody was excited to see what happened next.

the-flash-supergirl-crossover-worlds-finest-image-1Barry and Kara have marvelous chemistry by the way, what is it about Barry and cute adorkable blondes? I think I may actually enjoy his banter and interactions with Supergirl even more than I did his back and forth with Felicity from Arrow.

I know Barry went back to his own world, and the idea of bringing the Multiverse in here is a very DC move, and a brilliant idea – building on the strengths of the DC universe. Still, I’m a little bummed that there are separated by two different worlds. I want to see more of this. I want the Flash and Supergirl team up to be an annual thing, just like the Arrow crossovers are. I really can’t say enough about the-flash-arrow-crossover-event-118076how much fun this episode was, even more fun than the Flash /Arrow crossovers, more fun then the Legends of Tomorrow series, just more fun period. This episode may have just tipped the scales making Supergirl my new favorite series, narrowly beating out the Flash… Not sure. We’ll see how things go tonight! Barry is back on his own channel and I’ll be in front of the TV with my girls watching!

10302037_1088246911219731_8319881951109060156_n


Last week

tvTheWalkingDeadPosterMild spoilers.

The walking dead returned last night with a bang.

Did I just make a pun? I really didn’t mean to​.

We got a pretty full resolution of the cliffhanger from the mid season finale, and a lot of what we expected to happen did – there are certain people we didn’t think were going to make it through that zombie horde, and sure enough, they got eaten right up! I’ll admit to one death that I didn’t quite see coming, but probably should have in retrospect.

We got some Carl action straight out of the comics this week as well, and my wife freaked out. I knew what was coming from reading ahead, but man did she lose her mind. I’m glad though, glad that they didn’t shy away from this – Rick still has his hand in the TV show and certain things haven’t happened, I’m hoping that this is a return to form – a return to peril.

That really seemed to be the point of this episode, to try and make us feel that fear again, that peril. The truth is, there is a specific established cast on the show now, and they are far less willing to kill these people off. I’ve said it before, this is a problem – it was that feeling that no one will safe, that everyone was in danger and anyone could die at any time, that really build this series up. There’s too many safe characters now .

They played with that at the very beginning of the episode, you didn’t know how our heroes were going to get out of their dilemma and it looked pretty clear that a couple Supergirlof them were about to die… But even the supporting cast seems a little too safe in this brave new world of walking dead. It’s time to up the stakes, and we have a perfect opportunity to do that with the incoming villains – I hope they take advantage of it, but of course that means some people are going to have to die.

I also wanted to talk about Supergirl last week. Let’s face it, last week’s episode was nothing but fan service. I’m not complaining mind you, I feel quite serviced.

“For the Man Who has Everything” (which this story is loosely based) is one of my favortie Superman stories ever. It’s one of Alan Moore’s finest hours and it stands alone as the single silver age Krypton story that actually makes me interested in Superman’s Homeworld. The parisitic Black Mercy featured in this episode is dead on. It look EXACTLY like it does in the comics, and in fact it’s abillity to move a bit on leafy tentacles is a brilliant enhancement. I love this.

When Kal-El showed up, my girls were questioning why Kara had a little brother. I explained to them that it was her cousin. That it was Superman. Their jaws dropped.

mmI love seeing this Krypton. It’s a beautiful design. I saw familiar kryptonian writing in this episode, something I’m glad they are borrowing from Smallville. I love seeing the relationships Kara had. I love seeing Astra in this context as opposed to being a villian.

The biggest treat here though was to finally see Martian Manhunter flex his muscles. I think we’ve all been waiting for this since the big reveal that Henshaw was the Manhunter. Seeing both his true form in combat and his shifted form standing in for Kara was marvelous. I want to see more of it, but I suppose I get the wisdom is minimizing his exposure.

There was one thing that bothered me about this story though. It’s Kara’s speech at the end. I know, no one pressured her or questioned her, but it had to come from somewhere. Someone had to make her feel this guilty about her dreaming of Krypton instead of earth.

Supergirl is not Superman – she spent half her life on Krypton. Can you imagine that?

homePerhaps this will put it in better context. I can never go back to my childhood home.

My parents sold their house when I was about 14 – we moved to a smaller place, and eventually I grew up and moved out. The house I grew up in, doesn’t exist anymore. Oh the front facade is still there, though even that looks diffrent, now sillouetted by the atrocious small barn/shed that the next owner put up on the property. I checked the ads a couple years ago – the owners were selling it again. The pool is gone, the overgrown wooded area in the back yard – across the bridge over the ditch and just past the garden was cleared out into a wide open space with just a few trees left. They cut down the tree in the front – the one I used to climb and pretend was my fort or base. The bushes in front of the house are gone. My mother was always so proud of those hedge bushes right under the bay window. Inside the house, The spare bedroom that my father kept his music and instruments in, the one tThe Flashhat I used to play video games on an old Atari 2600 hooked up to an old black and white TV- that room is gone, the wall torn down to extend the kitchen.

When I dream of home, it’s that house – the one I grew up and as a child. The magic woods in the back that I played in, where it could become anything I imagined. It’s all a place I can never go back to.It no longer exists and I will miss it forever. If someone made me feel like I needed to apologize for that, that someone would no longer be in my life. Kara has nothing to be ashamed off and I resent that someone made her feel like she does. I really do.

Looking forward to her team up with the Flash though. I can’t tell you how excited the glimpse of her (and of the John Wesley Shipp Flash!) in the dimensional tunnel last week made me. The Flash continues to impress and I can’t believe this crossover is actually happening.

It was good to see Ronnie back last week by the way, even if it is a doppelganger. I actually mentioned to him that I’ve been waiting all season to see him come back, and here he is! Also digging that they are making use of the name “Deathstorm” even if it isn’t the FirestormBlackest Night version.

The other thing I’ve been waiting all season to see was Killer Frost. Ever since we got that brief glimpse of her at the end of last year I’ve been eagerly awaiting her arrival. It’s a good look, understated, but definitely Killer Frost. I actually hope to see a bit more of her, perhaps crossing over to our earth and making trouble. I like Kaitlyn and don’t want to see her go bad, but man, that Killer frost is dope.

That’s it for today. Tomorrow maybe we’ll talk some Deadpool.


tvsuicide-squad-2016-task-forceTV is starting up again, it’s slow – we are still waiting for iZombie and Supergirl, but it’s starting definitely​. Last week’s Promo for Legends of Tomorrow left me a little cold, but I really loved the showcase of the new DC cinematic universe. It got the girls excited to – they had no interest in Wonder Woman and were on the fence about Suicide Squad until they saw this.  It really does make me excited for what’s coming up on the films, but I’ve said it before, where DC is really killing it is on TV. They’re creating a brilliant shared universe there, and one that I’m far more interested in then there cinematic one.

The FlashFor me of course, the linchpin here is the Flash.

Mind you, I’m fully aware that Arrow came first – but I don’t really watch Arrow as much as I probably should – it’s hard for me to get in to. The Flash is a far more accessible show, better rounded and more engaging for me.

The Wally West story has been genuinely interesting. I like when its going, although I’m having a hard time with Wally been kind of – unlikeable. I’m sure that will change, but I miss the funny more lighthearted Wally that became my favourite flash in the comics. Still, the return of Reverse Flash and everything that is happening since the show has returned to TV for the rest of the season has really worked, dead on.

That brings us to Legends of Tomorrow. I missed the premier, but thankfully they legendsrebroadcast it last night after the Flash and I stuck around to watch it eagerly.

I’ve heard nothing bad about Legends, a lot of my friends are really into it, and completely on-board. I’m not so sure I am. It wasn’t bad mind you – it wasn’t bad at all. It was a very smart thing they did, setting this up over the course of a year across two different television series – when we finally got all the characters assembled it felt like visiting with old friends. This really is DC television’s version of the Avengers. The problem is, it wasn’t spectacular. The Avengers was mind blowing, this was merely okay. It was fun to watch these characters, but really I feel like I’m watching it because it’s got the DC logo in the top corner – and not because of its own merits. I’m not sure that I would be into this as much if it were a DC show, and that bothers me – it also makes me wonder if I’m going to be able to stay with it. A television show has to be pretty spectacular for me to remember to sit down in front of the TV and a certain time every week – I managed to hold on with both Arrow and Agents of SHIELD for about two or three weeks, until I started forgetting when it was on and fell behind and never caught up again. The Flash captured my imagination from the very first time I watched it – admittedly that was six months after the original premiere, but nevertheless I was on board immediately and haven’t missed an episodesense. Legends needs to improve dramatically for it to inspire that100_3362 kind of loyalty from me, and I think it might – the ending left me wanting more, and anticipating the next episode that this may be a DVR.

There’s some really good stuff here though. I love the costumes- Firestorm has one of the best versions of that costume I’ve seen, and I was actually a big fan of the way the series relaunched in 2006, and that seems to be a lot of what they are pulling from. I’ve always been a fan of what Gerry Conway created in Firestorm. One of my earliest comics was a Firestorm that guest-starred the JLA, Firestormand it’s been a real treat to see this in live action. There were times that I found the Ronny version a little lacking, but even still, I was loving it. This current incarnation though, it’s just perfect. The interaction between Professor Stein and Jefferson just works. These two have real chemistry with each other and really capitalizes on the dynamic of the age difference, something that was missing from the slightly overaged Ronny Raymond version (He was much younger in the comics).

Can we also talk about the Atom? I personally liked Brandon Routh as Superman, but for all the haters out there, you HAVE to admit he’s way more than redeemed NEyfD7W17jZeBC_2_bhimself and is absolutely KILLING it as the Atom. I love this suit too. I know it took a lot of flack at first for being a poor man’s Iron man, but really, once you see this overeager puppy dog personality that Routh is giving out, it’s obvious, this is as far from Iron Man as anyone could get. Seriously,  I think I may have to build a copy of this suit for myself.

I’ll definitely be back for more of this, and I want to see what happens with it.

In other news, no new Doctor Who until Christmas 2016. Looks like the TV category on the blog is going to get a lot thinner…


Last week

tvThe FlashFirst and foremost, I’d like to say that Zombieland is NO substitute for The Walking Dead, okay? It was actually a clever move for SyFy to run it last night in the Walking Dead’s time slot though, sort of trying to ease us out of the Sunday night habit we developed over those last two months. I found myself flipping between that and the Big Bang Theory reruns on TBS, not truly watching either one.

Enough of that. This entry here isn’t really about what I HAVEN’T watched, it’s about what I DID watch last week!

Can we just start off by agreeing how awesome the Flash and Arrow crossover was this week? Honestly I felt like I was watching an old issue of showcase.​ It’s amazing to me that these crossoveres even exist and I’m so happy to watch them.

Of course, if we want to be perfectly fair, we HAVE seen the Flash and Hawkman both on screen together before….but really, that’s a special that is best forgotten….12308301_1075958212448601_4967550108004245228_n

I know that they’re obviously setting up for next year’s Legends of Tomorrow series, but it’s one of those moments where even though I know I’m being played with a backdoor pilot, I just don’t care. The payoff is good enough that I’m fine with that. Really that’s the thing about DC on television, everything you’re doing just works. I know I’ve said it before, but what Marvel is to superhero movies, DC is to superhero television.I’m looking forward to Legends of tomorrow more than ever.

I’ve been about a week behind on Doctor Who, which is fine. The tendency of them to do two partners this season has really been troublesome for me, I really prefer the one shots that they started doing back when the series returned in 2005. The constant cliffhanger episodes have really been a little much. I suppose it wasn’t strictly a Rachel-Talalay-capaldi-series-9-300x219two-parter, but really close enough that I’m delighted to see you Rachel Talalay back in the directors chair though, I’ve enjoyed her work since her association back with the Nightmare on Elm Street movies, and to have her become such a big part of these new Doctor Who episodes is delightful. Someone up on the Hellbound web mentioned that the hell episode felt almost Hellriaser, with the Doctor having to actually solve what ended up being a giant puzzle – and the confession dial actually does resemble one of Leviathans puzzles more than a little bit. It’s not the first time we’ve seen a Hellraiser influence in Doctor Who either, remember the trickster? Now there was a cenobite clone if I’ve ever seen one! (and don’t even get me started on those boxes in the Sarah Jane adventures)

box

The initial departure of Clara from the series didn’t please me. While I don’t really enjoy her chemistry with the current Doctor, I much preferred her with Matt Smith, but that initial end still seemed like a very punk way to go out that I much prefer the exit that they gave her here, although it seems extraordinarily dangerous to have another rogue Tardis just floating around out there. Isn’t time lord technology supposed to be dangerous? And doctor_who_series_9_poster_by_jasetheavenger-d8i3dtqeven with Clara there, she is accompanied by Me.  Me is nothing short of a sociopath. I hate this chick, and to this day I believe she was one of the Doctors greatest mistakes.

The return to Gallifrey for the final episode was amazing.  I’ve been saying a lot this year, that the season has been mediocre. Not the last two episodes – these are been everything I’ve come to expect from the Doctor Who reboot. I love the fact that Gallifrey now seems to be back in our universe, but still far enough away that we’re not going to see it often. It’s still more distant than it was in the original series but close enough to maintain a presence. The idea of the Doctor being outraged at the use of the confession dial as a torture device, the way he forced the resignation of the Lord President, the description of him by the soldiers, it was all just perfectly epic. I so enjoyed this story. Moffat knows enough to give us some fan service whenever possible, and the return of the Hartnell Tardis, that too was a delightful surprise. really to me I don’t think of it so much is the Hartnell Tardis as I do the Pertwee Tardis. The first incarnation that we see that we see him in– or perhaps at a later one I don’t remember – is this same console, along with a very similar if not identical console room. The back wall, the one we never see, the one that isn’t all roundles, that room always made an impression on me.

consoleroom-3drs

hqdefaultI’m really digging the velvety coat that Capauldi dons at the end. That along with the banded collar, I hope those stay. All around, he gets more and more like my favorite  (again, see Pertwee above) every day it seems.

The new sonic screwdriver that we see at the end of the episode by the way, I like it. I like it way better than the one that Mat Smith and Capauldi have bee using, although I still have a seriously soft spot for The one that Tennant and Ecclston used. It had a more practical look where as this on in particular looks very much like a prop that you’d find in engineering during an episode of Star Trek : The Next Generation.(seriously though, doesn’t that look JUST like it belongs in that Starfleet tool box down there?)

tng

Still it’s an improvement, especially over the stupid sonic sunglasses (which there was no need to be outraged over – we were told flat out at the basheginning that they weren’t going to last)

I had to catch up on two episodes of Ash versus the Evil Dead as well. You know what? I’m glad these things are only half an hour. I still believe that the series is almost entirely fan service. it’s interesting what’s going on with it, but there is so little actual story that to spread it out over a season has got to be difficult – and it shows start after each upset I don’t feel like I’ve watched a whole lot of story, but that’s okay because I’m really tuning in to watch Ash with his chainsaw and slice up fiendish demonic thingies and we get that in spades. I am interested in seeing where the series goes, and I think it would be really cool if somebody re-edited it down into say, a two hour Evil Dead film – just boiling it down to the essentials. I think it could be accomplished, and the end result would be even more satisfying – still not complaining, I never thought the series would happen and refused to believe that it was actually real until I was sitting down watching it. Really if I have any complaints, it’s that as far as I know, Tom Sullivan isn’t doing any of the artwork for the Necronomicon. The Book of the Dead flew open in this last episode and I could see some of the images in there and they look very similar to what Tom created for the original Book of the Dead. There is absolutely no reason he shouldn’t have been invited back to create the new Book of the Dead prop and any artwork necessary. It’s a real missed opportunity.

Still, what a time to be alive, when you can watch the Flash, Green Arrow, Hawkman and Hawkgirl on live-action television, and then let the channel the next day to watch Doctor Who and one more time to watch a continuation of the evil dead. it’s good to be in 2015.


Last week

tv The FlashDoctor Who started the season slow. The Muppets is a disaster Gotham is disappointing.

Thank God for the Flash.

I can not say this enough. Thank God for the Flash or I might be done with TV again. Seriously, it’s the only show that makes me feel even remotely the way Doctor Who does; glued to the TV in wonder.

This season opener was shockingly strong. What’s amazing is that they came in so strong despite basically everything on the show having changed. Characters gone, roles changed, new jobs, new threats. That the show has held up so well, not only held up, but indeed managed to thrive is remarkable.

We were left on a bit of a cliffhanger last year and the premier took a risky approach, resolving it bit by bit using flashbacks spread over the first half hour of the episode. It shouldn’t have worked as well as it did but it kept me engrossed the entire time. We get set up very well for this season with Jay Garrek showing up in the final minuets (this is in the commercials, so I don’t consider it a spoiler) as wel as FINALLY seeing that circle behind the lightning bolt  go from red to white! My single biggest complaint on that costume and it’s gone!izombie

Seriously, considering my resistance to this show, I can’t believe it’s become one of my favorites. But it has a perfect balance of superheroics, humor, and drama. Indeed I wish the DC cinematic universe would pay more attention to it.

iZombie returned last night as well, not quite as great as the Flash, but you know what, it’s maintained it’s quality. It’s just as good this year as it was last year, and I’ve got no complaints.

I kind of dropped off the series last year after the Flash ended it’s season. It wasn’t intentional, I just forget to sit down to watch TV sometimes. Flash is a super strong lead in for iZombie and I think i kind of need it to keep up. I’m still going to have to go back and catch up, because I’ve obviously missed some major plot points, but still I didn’t feel too lost. There’s a very episodic feel to the show and you can almost ignore the story arcs here if you need to. I’m glad it’s back and look forward to watching it again this season.

Tuesday nights seems kind of crowed actually. It’s the night for the Muppets as well. Of course there’s just muppetsone little problem there, the Muppets still hasn’t really gotten better. It’s just to dark and cynical for me. This  episode revolves around Fozzie writing a bad script for the show. Kermit moans about how terrible it is and misleads him about it. The setup is actually very muppets, but the mean-spiritedness is not. The Kermit I know would have arrived at the conclusion to help Fozzie with his script far earlier, or would have just put it in the show anyhow because he’s a good guy. Kermit is love. But not so much on this show.

For the last three episodes, I’ve actually found the “B” storylines far more interesting and funny. This one has two of them. The first is Miss Piggy trying to get back at Christina Applegate for showing an embarrassing video of her on her show. And we’re back to mean-spirited. Piggy’s egotistical and kind of selfish, but her rage is usually expressed in a karate chop, I don’t know. Something just feels off here. The Gonzo storyline with him computer dating using a profile picture of Liam Hemsworth is much funnier. In fact the bits with Gonzo, Rizzo and Pepe have been the most consistently funny things in the show.

Overall it’s not working for me. It’s kind of like the Star Trek reboot. It’s not bad, it’s fun sometimes evern, but gothamit’s lost whatever made these characters special. It’s lost it’s soul. I more than half expect this show to get cancelled early. Mid-season at best.

I’ve said it already. Gotham this season is disappointing. It’s stayed firmly over the top, with out new Joker character firmly in the forefront. Here’s the problem:

Last year it felt like a cop drama set in the edges of the Batman universe. This year it feels like a Batman show, but without the Batman. You see where I’m going here? The more we focus on Jerome and Bruce, the more we really kind of miss Batman and the Joker. I didn’t miss them last year because it wasn’t about them. This year however, the series feels compelled to remind us “It’s a Batman show!”. Yeah. Okay. But there’s no Batman. There’s not going to BE any Batman. Not for a while anyhow – five, six years at least. And more importantly, that’s not what I signed on for. I signed on for a cop show, a crime show, I signed on for Law and Order : Gotham. And I doubted you. I thought “There’s no possible way they can maintain this for a full season…” and you proved me wrong!

But that was last year. This year, it’s a diffrent show, and I’m not really sure I like it as much. Jerome….it’s a half measure. It’s a network exec saying “We can’t have Batman without the Joker!” and they’re right. You can’t have Batman without the Joker. But the thing is….you don’t have Batman either. And all you do is remind us that you don’t have Batman and you don’t exactly have the Joker….this direction seems ill convinced.

doctor_who_series_9_poster_by_jasetheavenger-d8i3dtqIt’s not just the Joker focus, it’s the reduced focus on the Penguin – who was arguable the break-out character of last year. People LOVED Robin Lord Taylor, and it was a popularity that grew organically (As opposed to the very forced feel I get with Jerome). And seeing Nygma descend into madness… it’s no fun. I’d argue it’s not even accurate. The thing about the Riddler is that he’s super-smart, not that he’s a madman.

I guess it all comes back to my original thesis. This year, Gotham is just…disappointing.

I mentioned earlier that Doctor Who was starting slow. I stand by that staement. There were some stand out moments in the first story, but by the time we got to the back half of that two parter it had gotten awfully talky and convoluted. There’s a good idea in there, but it seems like they were more in love with discussing the idea than actually telling some kind of story.

This week’s ghost story was an improvement, but it still felt extremely average – not the sort of riveting, can’t-take-my eyes-off-the-screen storytelling I’m a bit more used to. Still, the thing about Doctor Who is, even when it’s average, it’s still so much better than most of the other things on TV. I like Capauldi and I REALLY prefer him in that hoodie. Good thing TheWalkingDeadPostertoo, it seems like he wears that far more than that white button down shirt.

More Doctor Who coming up on Saturday (Can you believe we’re already at the FOURTH episode this season? We’re a quarter of the way through!) and Walking Dead returns Sunday night. See you all there.